Poll: Warner Would Be Favorite for Va. Governor
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner would be a heavy favorite if he were to launch a gubernatorial campaign in Virginia once again next year, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released early Wednesday. If Warner doesn't run, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe would begin with a slight advantage. He holds early, modest leads over the two declared Republican candidates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
The poll, conducted Nov. 8-12, in the wake of last week's election, shows Warner with wide leads over both Republicans, outpacing Bolling by 20 points, 53 percent to 33 percent, and Cuccinelli by 18 points, 52 percent to 34 percent.
The race would be closer -- with significantly more undecideds -- if McAuliffe were the Democratic nominee. McAuliffe would lead Bolling, 38 percent to 36 percent, while he would hold a 4-point advantage over Cuccinelli, 41 percent to 37 percent.
McAuliffe has been contacting supporters since last Tuesday's election, indicating that Warner gave him the "green light" to make his second bid for his party's nod. McAuliffe finished second to state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Democratic primary.
Despite his 2009 candidacy, McAuliffe is not well-known in the commonwealth. More than two-thirds of voters, 68 percent, say they haven't heard enough about him to form an opinion.
Warner, on the other hand, remains widely popular. Three-in-five voters approve of the job he is doing as a senator, while just 25 percent disapprove. In fact, asked whether they prefer Warner run for another Senate term in 2014 or in a gubernatorial next year, more voters (35 percent) would rather see him remain in the Senate than run for governor (18 percent). Warner was first elected as the commonwealth's governor in 2002; Virginia prohibits governors from serving more than one term consecutively.
On the GOP side, Cuccinelli is better-known, but that is a mixed bag for the first-term attorney general. Twenty-nine percent of voters view him favorably, versus 24 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him. His job-approval score is 43 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove. In comparison, 70 percent haven't heard enough about Bolling to form an opinion, but his net-favorability and net-approval scores are more positive than Cuccinelli's.
The poll surveyed 1,469 registered voters via landline and cellular telephones. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.6 percentage points.